The Jakarta-based Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) is calling on the international community to protest and help reverse the sudden detention this week of Teguh Santosa, chief editor of Rakyat Merdeka Online.
Teguh was questioned at the Jakarta Police Office a few weeks ago following a complaint filed by a group that found a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on Rakyat Merdeka Online‘s February 2, 2006, edition. Teguh acknowleged that he had re-published three of 12 controversial cartoons originally published by the Denmark newspaper, Jylland Posten, in October 2005.
Rakyat Merdeka Online pulled the cartoons following protests from Muslim groups. Rakyat Merdeka Online also published an open apology.
Last Wednesday, July 17, Teguh was summoned by the Jakarta Higher Prosecutor’s office, which received the case from the Jakarta Police Office. After three hours of questioning, the prosecutor ordered Teguh’s detention at Cipinang prison, Jakarta, for ‘violating Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) article 156 and 156a’. The articles say that ‘whomever publicly expresses feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt against one or more groups, etnic races or RELIGIONS might be sentenced to a maximum five years imprisonment.’
Based on these developments, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Indonesia’s largest journalist organization:
- Strongly condemns the arrest and detention of Teguh Santosa as it is clearly violates Indonesian Press Law No.40/1999 as well Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution
- Protests the way the legal system cannot clearly distinguish between ‘insulting religion’ and ‘practising press freedom’
- Demands the immediate release of Teguh Santosa without condition, as well as the complete dismissal of the case against him, as it has nothing to do with any slander or defamation crime.
AJI’s statement was signed by its president, Heru Hendratmoko, President, and by Eko Maryadi of the association’s Advocacy Division.
For further information please contact AJI at Jl. Kembang Raya No. 6, Kwitang, Senen Jakarta Pusat 10420 Phone: 62-21-315 1214, Fax: 62-21-315 1261 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org